Freedom isn’t free.
And it’s unfortunate that this truth is so widely spread that it tends to lose its meaning. It just turns into lip service, a phrase by so-called ‘gun-crazy Republicans’ to support the armed forces, the lament of parents who have lost a son or daughter in the line of duty, the mantra of those who LIVED the act of securing freedom not just for America, but for all people everywhere.
America and what we stand for is something that everyone who lives in this grand country should seriously think about it and give thanks for. So I’m doing my own share of thinking – what does America mean to me?
I’m technically a suburban gal, but with a catch: I grew up on 68 acres of farmland in southwest Michigan. My formative years were spent, in hindsight, pretty much in bliss. Especially in the summertime, the height of joy to any youngster these days.
Helping to bale alfalfa, gather up fresh eggs, running barefoot for hours and especially in the cooling scents of dusk (when your feet tingle upon returning inside for the night.)
The scents of a barn – weathered wood, tractor oil, hay bales.
The noises in the fields – barn swallows chattering, grasshoppers buzzing by, the whispering of corn husks rubbing.
Catching toads, exploring rabbit trails with my dogs, curling up in the sun with my cats, hosing down the pigs when it was much too hot.
It’s all pieced together like a good scrapbook. It’s something upon which I’ve been pondering for many months now. And it actually has a lot to do with branding.
You may have guessed by now that purple is my favorite color. And I’ve found a real compulsion towards textures and patterns in particular. Damask (as featured in my background) is a lovely print that fits well into many genres and avenues; spend any time at a baby or wedding photographer’s site and you’ll very likely see it. It’s extremely attractive and certainly good for an artist.
But while I was out hiking in Maine, I had a lot of time to think. A LOT of time to think. And it got me thinking about . . . well, me. Who I am, who I aspire to be, what is achievable, what is sensible, and what is authentic. And I thought back to something I had read by Brooke Snow just before leaving on my hike:
“According to the dictionary:
Admiration is “a feeling of wonder, pleasure or approval.”
Attraction is “magnetic charm; fascination; allurement.”
She goes on to say that “Learning to discern between work that we admire and work that we are attracted to is a key ingredient for finding our own voice. ….. You will always have a more powerful impact in your work when you create from the heart.”
This may seem self-evident to some but I’m a huge visual learner, and reading these words – reading this truth spelled out – was like a firecracker for me.
As an artist you’re not ever really satisfied with your efforts. There is always a feeling of more and better – not in a selfish sense, mind you, but in the sense that I could be doing something greater – if even only for that thing’s own sake – than what I’ve managed to create. I suspect it plagues many more artists than we care to admit. So this means that I have to do some more soul-searching and find out what truly drives me, as opposed to things that I simply admire.
As far as the things that really matter to me, that’s simple. Family, honesty, integrity, history, God, respect of life and nature. All that’s left is to find out how to exemplify those things in my art, and oddly enough that’s where the difficulties occur. How do I incorporate integrity and family? I could join up with Photos for Soldiers to bring a slice of home life to those who are currently serving overseas. How do I incorporate respect of life and nature? I could shoot babies for Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep and provide outstanding portraits to improve adoption rates for animal shelters and rescues. God and history? Capturing mission work where it’s needed most.
And then how do these things play out in my visible self? What colors and textures really represent my vision? That’s the next piece of the pie and you can expect to see some changes to my site over the next few months.
The funeral service for which we came home is slated for next week, and the week following that we are going to the Smokies to do some hiking and see if we want to get back on the trail. I’ll devote a post to it later, but the section of the Appalachian Trail that we did in Maine pretty much took the wind out of my sails and at this point I don’t really think that I’m well suited to long-term hiking. So I’ll either get to focus on my art or I’ll be off in the wilds again . . . time will tell.